Progressives lambast DOJ as it frees ‘drug lords’

Mar. 13, 2018


MANILA, Philippines – Progressive lawmakers on Tuesday branded President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war as “death for the poor, and salvation for the rich” following the acquittal of the Department of Justice (DOJ) against suspected drug lords.

In a statement, Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said the DOJ panel’s dropping of drug trafficking charges against suspected drug lords Peter Lim and Peter Co and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa “only exposed the fake and class nature of the Duterte government’s war on drugs where the poor is summarily executed while the rich is given due process and acquitted.”

“The government’s ‘war’ on drugs, is not only unjust, but class-biased to the rich. The decision was reprehensible,” Casilao said.

A DOJ panel of prosecutors cleared Lim, Co and Espinosa due to insufficiency of evidence presented by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the “inconsistencies” in the testimony of its lone witness, Marcelo Adorco, who was also cleared of the charges.

The resolution approved by acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr., was reportedly issued on Dec. 20, 2017 but was only revealed to media on Monday.

Lim is a “kumpadre” or wedding co-sponsor of President Rodrigo Duterte, while Co is serving a life sentence in the National Bilibid Prison for the 2001 drug trade charges. They were also charged as the biggest drug supplier in the Eastern Visayas region.

In August 2017, the CIDG filed a case implicating them for the “(selling), trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.”

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi de Jesus said that this move by the DOJ “further exposed Duterte’s drug war as a farce and sham, and affirms the selective judicial enthusiasm of the Justice department.”

“The DOJ effortlessly dropped the drug trading case against self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinos for lack of evidence while rabidly going after dissenters and activists in its terror list. In Duterte’s book of justice, drug lords are set free while activists, UN rapporteur, women’s rights and IP right’s advocates are being hounded,” de Jesus said in a statement.

Gabriela’s de Jesus said that the DOJ’s move to exenorate the said drug lords are “a glimpse of the kind of justice system the Duterte administration is pushing in our country.”

“The poor gets killed, opposition swamped with trump up charges and impeachment cases while the drug lords, the corrupt, and their cohorts, enjoys the gift of ‘due process’ and eventually sat free,” De Jesus added.

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III meanwhile denied any hand on the decision and clarified that decision is not yet final.

“Procedurally, my office has no hand nor say on the resolution of this case,” Aguirre said. (

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